I am a huge proponent of eating nutritious food and exercising to be healthy, and I used to think that those were the only components of health. They are incredibly important, but not the whole picture. Over time I have realized that taking care of your health also means doing things to reduce stress in your life and maintaining a positive outlook: doing and thinking about things that make you feel good. Now hopefully what you eat and what you do for exercise do make you feel good, but I’m talking about habits and messages that revolve around your emotional, mental, and spiritual health. These are important parts of your overall health that can easily be neglected. I know I usually focus on healthy recipes here, but today I thought I would take a different approach and talk about some ways I take care of my health that don’t revolve around food.
Note: For my book club, we recently read the book The Happiness Project which detailed a writer’s journey through one year of resolutions to increase happiness. The book included tons of advice on ways to be happier, and prompted me to think about what habits I could adopt and what messages I could think about to help make me feel more peaceful, more grateful, and just happier right now.
1. Walk after dinner. Not only do I feel good that I’m giving Mason (my dog) exercise and obedience training, but this habit improves digestion and allows for time think, relax, and connect with nature. I feel so much better when I walk after dinner than when I eat and then just plop down on the couch. And now, every night after dinner, Mason sits by the back door waiting for me to take him for a walk.
2. Keep a gratitude journal. Inspired by The Happiness Project as well as one of Rem’s co-workers (link to her blog), I decided to start my own gratitude journal. At the end of each day, I write one sentence about something I did that day, one sentence about something for which I am grateful, and one sentence in prayer for someone. So far it has proven to be a great way to reflect on the day and appreciate the wonderful people, events, and things in my life.
3. Pray together. Rem and I started praying together before our meals, and even this small gesture helps us appreciate our food, our lives, and each other so very much.
|Mason, my baby.|
1. If something takes less than one minute, just do it! I read this tip in The Happiness Project and it instantly resonated with me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written a task on a to-do list that I actually could have completed in the time it took me to write it down. This tip has helped diminish those little stressors that stem from piled-up, unfinished tasks.
2. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. This tip also comes from The Happiness Project. I fall victim to this all the time. I don’t want to start a task or set a goal because I don’t think I’ll be able to do it perfectly. Do you ever feel this way? I constantly have to remind myself: doing “good” is better than doing nothing at all. This doesn’t mean I shouldn’t work hard and strive to do well. It means that it is not necessary, or possible, to be perfect. Which leads me to the next message…
3. Mr. Rogers once said: “Some days, doing the ‘best we can’ may still fall short of what we would like to be able to do, but life isn't perfect – on any front – and doing what we can with what we have is the most we should expect of ourselves or anyone else.” This may not be meaningful to you today, or ever, but it’s something I think about every day. Take some time to reflect on what this might mean for you.
4. My friends Meghan and Molly recommended that I listen to this truly moving homily from Father Gary Braun at the Catholic Student Center at Washington University. I am thankful that they told me about it, and I pass the recommendation on to you. Listen to it if you have the time (click on the link). It is beautiful. Do you think you’re beautiful?
I hope everyone has a great day! I would love to hear about any healthy habits or messages that are important to you. Post a comment if you have something to share.